August is National Wellness Month: How to Make Well-Being a Priority
August is National Wellness Month and it’s an opportunity to reflect on how to prioritize health, wellness and a healthy lifestyle. For example, learning ways to better manage stress, prioritize self-care, and continue to develop healthy habits.
A healthy lifestyle can be a challenge to maintain. It’s a day-to-day commitment to well-being. Even though August is National Wellness Month, every day of the year is a new day and a new chance to practice self-care. Your health is the foundation of everything you do and how you feel — whether it’s work, family, or play. Strive to make big, or small steps towards healthy habits every day.
What is National Wellness Month?
National Wellness Month is not an official observance. Rather, it started in 2018 when a commerce company called “Live Love Spa” set out to create a monthly focus on wellness products. The idea caught on, expanded to overall health and wellness and now many organizations and individuals observe the theme each year.
National Wellness Month is meant to inspire people to take time out of their busy schedules to focus a bit more on self-care. And it’s a way to practice incorporating healthy habits into day-to-day activities.
A commitment to developing healthier habits for one month can help set the stage for successfully maintaining those habits in the year to come and beyond.
Why should you participate in National Wellness Month in August?
The end of summer is a time of transition. Autumn is just around the corner but there’s still plenty of daylight and sunshine for end-of-day activities. For families with children, it’s back to school which might free up some time for a new workout routine or a meditation moment for stress relief.
And, as is common in the fall, feelings of nostalgia and reflection can lead to counting blessings. Giving thanks and focusing on the positive can help relieve stress and anxiety.
A healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint. Even during National Wellness Month!
Famous American chef, author, and television personality Julia Child is known not only for her culinary skills but for her timeless advice. “Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health.” You’ll find additional insight in our 6 Essential Health and Fitness Tips for Summer blog including:
“To stay motivated, set goals that are attainable and realistic so that when you meet them, you feel a sense of accomplishment. If you miss a day, don’t give up. Start again the next day. It’s not an all-or-nothing strategy. Fitness can happen every day, in big or small ways. The trick is to keep it top of mind and find every opportunity to grab some ‘health time’ for yourself.”
And remember, health and wellness is also about how you interact with your family, friends, and peers. Giving someone else positive feedback not only helps them feel better, it can also help with self-esteem as well. Do good, feel good! For example, do something nice for someone else, or show gratitude towards someone who has done something nice for you. The net effect is an improvement of everyone’s wellness.
Ideas for how to participate in National Wellness Month
Make a realistic self-care plan that you can incorporate into your schedule. Don’t be too ambitious, but also challenge yourself to do more than you were before. It’s all relative. So, if you were walking one mile, try walking one and a half, or even two miles.
If you’re looking to cut calories, go for a salad instead of a burger (or drop the bun and just go for lean protein and a green side.) If stress and anxiety are affecting your health, try meditating or listening to calming music instead of watching television. Most importantly, National Wellness Month is not about increasing pressure or complicating an already busy schedule. It’s about re-evaluating where changes can be made and finding sustainable ways to increase your health and wellness in the moment, and for the future.
Below are some important, fundamental elements that will jumpstart your pursuit of health and wellness.
Drink plenty of water
Good hydration is important for living your best life! Your body is 90% water. Plenty of water consumption is critical for the function of your muscles, joints, eyesight, and skin. But how much water do we need to drink every day for our health?
According to a study on dietary intake of water by the National Academy of Sciences, on average, women need approximately 11.5 cups per day (92 ounces) and men need 15.5 cups (124 ounces). In other words, roughly 3/4 of a gallon for women and almost 1 gallon for men. Of course, this can change depending on your environment, level of physical activity, and other factors.
Do you find yourself drinking a lot of soft drinks and other packaged drinks? If so, beginning in the month of August, consider replacing some of those with glasses of water. You can add a little lemon to give it flavor. Your body will thank you!
Get a lot of sleep
Did you know lack of sleep can affect your mental state similar to alcohol intoxication? According to the NIH, being awake for a full 24 hours is similar to being just over the drunk driving level of 0.08% BAC! You'll tend to see reduced cognitive and motor performance.
So how much sleep do you need? According to the CDC, most adults need approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you find yourself burning the candle at both ends, consider setting some goals and boundaries for yourself.
For example, consider stopping the use of any electronic devices after 7-8:00 pm. Instead, try reading a book, meditating, or something else relaxing before bed. This can help you get to sleep faster and have more restful sleep. This is because the light from electronic devices can have a negative effect on circadian rhythm and negatively impact your quality of sleep.
Nourish yourself with a natural diet
It’s been said that we are what we eat. Accordingly, during this National Wellness Month of August, consider switching to a healthy diet of all-natural foods. An easy way to do this is to stick to the walls of the grocery store and avoid the isles in between. Focus on meat, fruit, vegetables, and good sources of fat. Avoid packaged, boxed, or canned food and drinks when possible.
According to the NIH, things like food additives and highly processed foods can cause negative health effects. For example, they can lead to inflammation throughout the body. They can also contribute to insulin resistance and lead to a whole host of negative metabolic conditions.
Try sticking to simple foods to improve your physical and mental wellness. Your gut, brain, and body will thank you!
Enjoy the outdoors. Get some exercise.
While relaxing indoors in a climate-controlled environment can be part of your wellness routine, there’s a lot to be said about getting outside and physically connecting with nature.
According to the South Central Mental Illness Research, Education & Clinical Center (MIRECC), walking for at least 10 minutes per day is enough to begin seeing positive physical and mental health improvements.
For at least this month, try walking outside for at least 10 minutes per day. Bonus points if you do so on the grass barefoot! And remember the saying, “Breathe deep, oxygen is free!”
Disconnect from social media
Many studies have shown that social media use correlates strongly with a decline in mental and emotional health. In the month of August, consider stepping away from your social media to give your brain a break.
According to the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, disconnecting from social media for even 1 week can begin improving depression, anxiety, and overall well-being.
Watch out for the disconnection trap though! By disconnecting from social media, you'll find you have hours of extra free time on your hands. Try filling this time with positive and fulfilling activities to keep your mind off those social profiles. Perhaps give a friend a call and talk, rather than text. Take a walk outside with friends or family, or turn out the lights earlier for a longer, better night of sleep.
Be thankful for something
Did you know that gratitude can physically change your brain for the better? According to Greater Good Magazine from UC Berkeley, simply expressing gratitude can have lasting, positive, effects on the brain.
Gratitude has been shown to strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, and even reduce symptoms of illness in some cases! This all sounds great but, how do you put gratitude into practice? Here are a few ideas:
Thank someone who did something nice for you.
Pray or meditate about something you’re thankful for.
Try to not only express gratitude from within but, also externally to the people you are thankful for. This leads to the next recommendation, doing something nice for someone!
Do something nice for someone
One of the important principles of personal well-being is to not get so caught up in focusing on yourself that you lose sight of the well-being of others.
It may sound obvious, but try doing something nice for someone else, especially if it helps promote wellness for them.
According to The Journal of Positive Psychology, performing acts of kindness results in greater well-being benefits than established cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
For example, if you’ve decided to pamper yourself this month with a trip to the spa, consider buying a friend or loved one a spa treatment as well. You’ll both feel better for it!
Remember, wellness is an endurance race
There are a lot of ways to improve your health and wellness. It may be tempting to build an overly ambitious well-being plan for yourself. Be careful that you don’t set yourself up for failure.
This is one of the nice things about observing an entire month for improving your own well-being. Think about what you can accomplish in roughly 30 days by simply doing a few extra things for at least a few minutes per day. Don’t overwhelm yourself!
Spend 5-10 minutes writing in a gratitude journal. Take a 10-minute walk around the block. Thank someone in person for doing something nice. Remember, personal wellness is an endurance race, not a sprint.
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SEDERA, INC. DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. The information contained herein is for informational and/or educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.